Walter and his family are an African-American family living in Chicago. They recently came into some insurance money, and Walter’s mother found a better house for sale in a white neighbourhood. However, when the family’s future neighbours found out that a black family were planning to move in, they sent a representative, Mr Lindner, to offer them money to stay away. In the meantime, Walter’s friend Willy Harris ran off with a large portion of the money. In this speech, Walter shares his new, more realistic view of the world with his mother…
Talking ’bout life, Mama. You all always telling me to see life like it is. Well I laid in there on my back today . . . and I figured it out. Life just like it is. Who gets and who don’t get. (He sits down with his coat on and laughs) Mama, you know it’s all divided up. Life is. Sure enough. Between the takers and the “tooken.” (He laughs) I’ve figured it out finally. (He looks around at them) Yeah. Some of us always getting “tooken.” (He laughs) People like Willy Harris, they don’t never get “tooken.” And you know why the rest of us do? ‘Cause we all mixed up. Mixed up bad. We get to looking ’round for the right and the wrong; and we worry about it and cry about it and stay up nights trying to figure out ’bout the wrong and the right of things all the time . . . And all the time, man, them takers is out there operating, just taking and taking. Willy Harris? Shoot Willy Harris don’t even count. He don’t even count in the big scheme of things. But I’ll say one thing for old Willy Harris . . . he’s taught me something. He’s taught me to keep my eye on what counts in this world. Yeah (Shouting out a little)
[…] You see, Mama, the man came here today and he told us that them people out there where you want us to move well they so upset they willing to pay us not to move! (He laughs again) And oh, Mama you would of been proud of the way me and Ruth and Bennie acted. We told him to get out . . .
Lord have mercy! We told the man to get out! Oh, we was some proud folks this afternoon, yeah. (He lights a cigarette) We were still full of that old-time stuff .